I went to Caffe Vittoria this afternoon to read--Billie Holiday's autobiography--and for a hot chocolate. There were these four little girls sitting behind me at their own table, with their parents--two couples--at another across the room. Curiously, the parents were speaking French, but all of the girls were speaking English--which was obviously their first language, not hints of accents. The girls were having a spirited debate about what killed the dinosaurs. It was cute.
I woke up very early and watched a bad Hallmark Christmas movie, though I'll watch just about anything Christmas-related and the bad Hallmark movies help with my panic attacks. Then I watched 1935's Mad Love--Colin Clive is a favorite of mine. I was going to walk out to BC to run stairs, but then I decided to write a story. I though it was going to be something else, but then it wrote itself, and as I was writing it--a work called "Fireworks People"--I started to think I'd work in what I thought I would be writing. Then I knew that wouldn't fit. And I thought, okay, now you have overlap, but screw it, we'll just do the two stories separately, overlap be damned. But that's not what happened. This is all going on as I'm writing the story. I realize that what I'm making is the perfect encapsulation of everything behind Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. And I know full on that this is the first work in the book. And, what's more, these same characters will be in a different story--what I had before this started, what I know better now--that will close the book. "Fireworks People" was exactly 514 words long. And it borders on the impossible to believe that it is 514 words long. This is book is radical. I'm sitting on a masterpiece. You can't call this story, or anything in this book, a short, short-short, microfiction. All of it is unlike anything else. There has to be a new term. This story today was a major one. Major on its own, major with the ramifications for the book.
With last week being over, let's do a wrap-up of the Week Game: I did the proposal for the Billie Holiday book. Wrote a short story in "House Set." Wrote a feature for JazzTimes on Art Tatum and his V-Disc recordings of the mid-1940s. Wrote a Thanksgiving op-ed. Obviously there were these journal posts. Spoke on the radio about Meatheads. There were also about 250 letters I wrote and sent out. All of the miles walked, all of the stairs ran.
Schiller had surgery a while ago, so I checked in on him today to see how he was. They had to do more than was initially envisioned, pushing back his recovery time. But he sounded in good spirits. He's a good person. Anyone who read that piece in The Smart Set would know just how highly I regard him--his character. He's very active--still plays hockey, for instance--so I'm sure having to be less active for a while is the hardest part. That'd be quite difficult for me with where I am at right now with everything. In a better situation, back at my house in Rockport, I could handle physical downtime better. Right now it might finish me.
As for Rockport--Facebook sent me one of those "memory" things today--was a photo of me outside the house on the day of the closing. I looked a good deal heavier. I don't need to be seeing a photo like that--it is a knife into me. But I said, right, these days, right here, right now, with the art you are creating, with now you are keeping going, these are the days that will make your future, it is because of these days that you will change this world. These days. This time right now. Keep going. The more you sow right now, the more you will reap later. These days are going to prove to be everything.
I do think that's more true than if I was talking about the days of three years ago, or six months ago. With the body of work being where it's at, with my ability being where it's at, with what I can do--easier than ever--being where it's at, with these new books, the ones coming out, the ones I am making, the fact that I can write a book in a week, or a month, the ideas I have--and I have more than ever. The books I have to finish. This site. This journal. I am in my biggest push yet. Armed with more than ever. What I did on mornings like this morning, and what I did in weeks like this past one, all of it adds up to getting where I must get. And I don't know, man--there is just something inside of me right now, and it's been there, vocal, for the last few months, as I knew I had to finish Brackets, write the Sam Cooke book, that just keeps saying, "the time is now, this is the time to push harder than ever."
I heard from Kimball--the Guggenheim people reached out to him for a letter of recommendation. That's good. I kind of already thought I'd made it past a round of cuts, same as last year. I will get this at some point. This year, next year. At this time next year, I'll have three more books out, minimum. That will take me to eight, if I have to apply again for 2021. Eventually hands will be forced--I'm talking more with publishing now--and what I am doing is already so insanely beyond what anyone else is doing, and it is built on every single bloody week. And I'm getting better, every day. There will come a time when people in these conclaves will have no choice. Or I will be so far past them, that I will be the decider. When that time comes, the work will get out there, I will have the platform, there will have to be answers to the questions of what the hell was happening here/what were you doing/what were you thinking/why did you sit on this/why didn't you reply/How could you receive such and such and do this and that, etc.; I will be as driven as ever, I won't forget a single thing that has happened, and this system will come down. As the questions are asked that will have their inevitable answers. There will have to be explanations--and none of those are good--and accountability, and that won't go well, because what's happened is the kind of thing that the people responsible wouldn't wish for anyone else to know, let alone large amounts of people--the court of public opinion. I know what I'm playing for. I know the stakes. They wouldn't be someone else's stakes. Anyone else's. But they are my stakes, and because I am me, because I do what I do, can do what I do, because of the body of work, they are realistic stakes. I am going to impact this world in a way it hasn't been before.
I cannot get clear of the feeling--and maybe there's a point to it, maybe I need it always buzzing in me, the "reminder" voice somewhere in my gut, my head--that so much is predicated upon right now. How I do. How I keep it together. How I stay focused. How I keep going. How I create. It could also simply be nothing, it could be a sort of mirage feeling. But it's a very strong feeling, and it's here everyday. It's like something inside of me--or outside of me that has gotten inside of me--is coaching me along. "Right now is going to mean everything. Whatever you do, whatever you impact, where your own life goes, is going to be determined by what you do right now. This is the time."
On Tuesday on Downtown I'll discuss Lewis's The Monk, Hammer's The Vampire Lovers, Josquin's Masses, Led Zeppelin III, and the "Good Ghost" episode of Quiet, Please. I'm increasingly of the mindset that Ernest Chappell is one of the best actors this country has ever produced. He had no acting experience before this program. Wyllis Cooper was like, "I think you'd be good at this," and damn was he correct. In each episode, too, Chappell is an entirely different character than in every other episode. The more I re-listen to this program, the more I'm taken aback. The Monk seemed fitting for November to me, the Hammer film and the Zep album have fiftieth anniversary, and the Tallis Scholars just put out their ninth and final volume of the Josquin Masses. I'll have to try and run down a review copy this week. I requested the new Mingus set the other day, which has a concert from 1964 in Bremen with Eric Dolphy. Also asked the good people at the Revels to send me their upcoming two-disc Christmas album celebrating their fifty years. Something came from Resonance--don't know what it is yet. Hopefully the forthcoming Sonny Rollins release.
Was pleased the other day to learn that Vollmer is also a big Golden Girls fan.
Sow. Reap. And if you are cursed, as this this has felt and seemed for so, so long: Then I defy you, stars. Not losing to you either. Focus. Strength.